Finance and banking
Foreign exchange trading firm GAIN Capital knows all about investment – but not just financial. To support their continued growth, they’ve invested in their biggest asset for the future success of their organization: their people.
GAIN Capital provides a fast-growth, high-octane retail trading platform focused on foreign exchange, equities, contract for difference (CFD) and is now diversifying into cryptocurrencies. Having started in 2000 with just a few employees, GAIN Capital has grown organically to become a 300-strong US-headquartered organization. The company experienced a growth spurt when it acquired UK-based online trading firm City Index in 2014. This not only gave GAIN Capital bases in two countries and annual trading volumes of more than $3 trillion, it also added an additional 300 employees to manage.
The acquisitions didn’t stop there – the firm now employs nearly 700 individuals and operates in 12 major cities across the globe including London, Sydney and Tokyo, thanks to both direct growth as well as further merger and acquisition activity.
With burgeoning staff numbers and a global business, GAIN Capital employed a new Head of HR, Christine Sheedy, who spearheaded initiatives to support and enable growth. “When I arrived everything people-related was done on spreadsheets,” she explained.
“There was no centralized global HR database and every country had its own process and way of doing things. We had multiple systems; one for performance management, one for payroll, one for compensation and benefits–but they were entirely disparate–they didn’t integrate at all.” As a result, there was no single view of what was happening across the company, making it harder for the organization to make effective people-driven business decisions.
Getting the basics right
Simple headcount reports were particularly difficult to create. The company’s HR team had to pull data from spreadsheets across the multiple disciplines and manually check currency exchanges for things like compensation and salaries. “I would dread sending the report,” remembers HR Generalist Jennifer Lynch. ”It was manually intensive, taking about two weeks to complete, with a lot of data sources, so the margin for error was huge.”
Sheedy admits it wasn’t just the accuracy of the data that concerned her; it was also the employee experience, particularly at a time when she wanted to create a renewed focus on employees. “With no systems in place for managers to track performance reviews, objectives or benefits programs, the employees were just left to themselves,” she explains. “There was no place to keep employees engaged or make them all feel part of GAIN Capital together.”
This made Sheedy’s goal to build GAIN Capital’s reputation as an excellent employer with great employee experiences near impossible.
Adding value to the business
Sheedy believes one of the biggest difficulties for HR and People teams is demonstrating value-add back to the business: “We want to help our business managers run their teams, ensure they have the right people in the right jobs doing the right tasks, and doing that as smoothly as possible.”
“But you can only do this if you’ve got the basics of HR right first: the payroll, the reporting, the performance management. Once those are running smoothly, you can trust the data that can help advance the business agenda.”
Sheedy was clear what the organization needed. “I wanted one view of everything, who our people were, what they were doing, and all their information,” she explains matter-of-factly. “We needed a platform where employees and managers could engage, and the HR team could manage every aspect of our employees’ lifecycle.”
Operating in the fast-paced financial trading arena means complexity is a natural part of GAIN Capital’s business, so Sheedy was also keen to remove any complications from the HR process. She explains: “We have done a significant amount of acquisitions and divestitures in my time here, so our workforce can be as many as 1,000 employees, or as little as 600. It’s my job to make sure we retain our key performers and the knowledge they hold, so that we can keep on growing and developing as a business.”
Selecting a simple, flexible platform
Sage People was the obvious solution for GAIN Capital from the start, explains Sheedy. With its automated functionality and cloud-based platform, Sage People provided a centralized place for GAIN Capital to manage its global workforce and give its employees a more collaborative experience.
Branded as ‘MyGAIN’ and run as the organization’s intranet, GAIN Capital uses the system to act as an internal homepage – with all the company’s news displayed so employees can use the platform for more than just HR.
“We’re an agile business and we needed a flexible system that helps our employees make the most of their experience here,” says Sheedy. “That’s what we get from Sage People.” She adds that, “the platform was flexible enough that it could be customized for our needs, and yet structured so that we didn’t have to design everything from scratch.”
The difference, according to Lynch, has been remarkable with headcount reports that previously took two weeks being produced in minutes. “This means I can report to finance and compliance teams almost immediately after month end, enabling more accurate company reporting and budgeting and, as a result, better business decisions” she explains happily.
Helping employees feel part of the MyGAIN team
With all employee information centralized, performance reviews and objectives are easier to manage, says Lynch, resulting in better staff retention and engagement. Before, the organization had yearly reviews with no trackable objectives or links to compensation. Now, they’ve moved to a people-focused agile approach that works on continuous feedback, easily supported by Sage People.
As a result, employees and managers can see how they’re achieving against objectives, where they’re doing well and where they might need to focus more time. “There shouldn’t be any tricky conversations at the end of the year anymore, and this will definitely made everyone happier,” explains Lynch.
Both Sheedy and Lynch agree that employee reaction to the new system has been overwhelming. “I’ve had employees stopping me in the corridors to tell me how great it is and how it has changed the way they work with their teams. We had 100% adoption in just a matter of weeks,” Sheedy exclaims.
Self-service has enabled employees to take ownership of their own data, boosting engagement and saving the HR team valuable time. Lynch explains: “Everyone can see their own information on MyGAIN; they can access their benefits packages, print forms and see our corporate and IT policies. This saves the team indispensable time having to email employees and inputting new data.”
As a result, the HR and People team have been freed up to concentrate on more of the things that matter – with better actionable insights at their fingertips. For example, talent management has become front and center of management conversations, Sheedy explains proudly. “Employees can track internal jobs and know how they can grow and develop here. I can better manage our high performers, and make sure they have what they need to succeed. As a result, we’re retaining our best people, which is helping our business grow.”
“I don’t think there’s another product on the market that could do for us what Sage People has done. Some systems are great at payroll, or performance management or benefits, but they don’t have the holistic view of the employees’ experience that I get from using Sage People,” concludes a satisfied Sheedy.Download case study